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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, December 18th (All times Eastern)

Indiana Pacers (20-4) at Miami Heat (18-6), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Just one week removed from the biggest regular-season game of the season, the rematch between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat heads to South Beach Wednesday, but possibly without a major star.

LeBron James tweaked his left ankle in Monday's easy victory over the Utah Jazz. He did not practice on Tuesday and his status for Wednesday is questionable.

"Very stiff, very sore," James said after practice on Tuesday. "I'm going to be around-the-clock treatment. We'll go from there. It' doesn't matter if it's the Pacers or not. We're a long-term team and I'm a long-term player."

It would be a disappointment to not just Miami fans, but NBA fans if James isn't able to go on Wednesday.

The two teams, who engaged in an epic seven-game battle for the Eastern Conference title last season, met last Tuesday in Indianapolis. The Pacers came out on top, 90-84, after a spectacular second-half surge.

Indiana outscored the Heat by 13 over the final 24 minutes to secure the victory. Once again, as was the case in Miami's successful run to another NBA championship last season, Roy Hibbert posed a huge problem for the Heat.

Hibbert was Indiana's leading scorer with 24 points, but he also grabbed six rebounds and handed out five assists. He shot 10-for-15 from the floor and helped hold the Heat to a shade under 43 percent shooting from the field.

Indiana's other big man, David West, finished with 17 points and nine boards against the Heat.

"Those guys are a huge problem," James acknowledged.

James had 17 points, 14 rebounds and six assists against the Pacers.

The Heat thrashed the Utah Jazz, 117-94, on Monday. They've won two straight and four of five, with the only loss during that span coming in Indiana. Wednesday night will be the third of a five-game homestand and Miami is 11-2 at home this season.

The Pacers lost their first home contest of the season on Monday when the Detroit Pistons topped them, 101-96. The Pistons are one of two teams to beat Miami in South Beach as well.

Both teams shot identical 43.2 percent from the floor and committed only eight turnovers apiece. Josh Smith of Detroit was the difference with 30 points, followed by 13 and 12 boards from Greg Monroe.

"We didn't compete tonight," said West. "We didn't come ready to play. They were more aggressive and took advantage of our errors."

Lance Stephenson paced the Pacers with a career-high 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Paul George tallied 17 points with nine rebounds and Luis Scola scored 18 off the bench.

The Pacers lost their last road game, a 118-94 setback to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the end of a brutal road trip.

Indiana has won four of the last five regular-season matchups, but has dropped four straight in Miami and eight of nine.

12/18 10:22:03 ET

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    Saturday at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Texas A&M

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Kansas City at Baltimore

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